Walk-in coolers and commercial refrigerators of all types are a Fowler & Sons specialty. Walk-ins are an important part of many industries, and we can create a custom walk-in cooler to fit your specific needs quickly and cost-effectively.
Below are some frequently asked questions about walk-in cooler systems to help provide you more insight.
1. How do I know what size refrigeration system I need?
On the average 1 cubit feet of open storage area will accommodate about 28 pounds of solid food. If you’re running a restaurant, you will need approximately 1.5 cubic feet of storage space for every meal you serve per day. It’s better to have too much storage space than not enough. However, your walk-in shouldn’t be exorbitantly large because your monthly operating cost generally increases as its size increases.
Fowler & Sons will make sure that you are getting a refrigeration system that is sized correctly for your walk-in. If your system is underpowered it will run often and wear out quickly. If your system is overpowered it will not cycle enough to effectively remove humidity from the box and may cause icing.
There are different types of refrigeration systems with different purposes and benefits. For example, remote refrigeration can be located outdoors when your walk-in is located indoors. This is beneficial because you’re not adding heat or noise to the room where the walk-in operates. It’s also important to know the voltage requirements for your building (single or 3 phase power). In general, commercial buildings will use 3 phase power and residential will use single phase.
You can call Fowler & Sons and we will help you size your unit. >> (919) 779-4330
2. Do I need a floor in the cooler?
Coolers can be installed on ground contact concrete floors and pads but it is recommended that an insulation barrier be installed under the walls of the unit to reduce condensation on high humidity days. On coolers located on wood frame floors a cooler floor is necessity. Condensation will develop under the floor and eventually rot the floor out. On freezers, a floor or an insulated concrete floor with insulation barrier is required.
3. How do I keep my walk-in cooler operating costs lower?
Most users do not understand that they can lower the cost of operating their units if they do some very simple things.
First, if initial costs are not an issue, purchase your walk-in cooler or freezer with extruded polystyrene insulation. It is the overall best insulation in the market for walk-in coolers or freezers.
Next, do some simple things such as order your walk-in with strip curtains to lower heat gain to the walk-in when loading or walking into the unit. You need to work with Fowler & Sons to set the minimum required defrost cycles for your specific needs. Step inside the walk-in once a month and check for any light coming from around the door, refrigeration systems, electrical connections and other penetrations in the panels. If light is found, contact Fowler & Sons to correct the issue. Periodically check door gaskets and door sweeps for wear. If wear is evident have Fowler & Sons replace the worn part.
4. Is wood bad in walk-ins?
It is always better not to include wood in walk-in coolers and freezers. Wood is a poor insulator and does not do well in the consistently damp or wet environments commonly found in walk in coolers and freezers. Some walk in manufactures actually use 2X4-inch tongue and grove edging around each panel edge throughout their walk ins. Some walk in companies use wood throughout their walk in doors.
5. What is a good R value?
R-value is the resistance to heat flow. The higher the R-value the better the insulation is in a walk-in cooler or freezer.
R-value of any insulation varies according to age of the insulation, wetness of the insulation, type of insulation, mean temperature of the insulation and condition of the insulation.
Most companies publish the R-values of their walk-in coolers and freezers. These R-values are usually taken at the time the insulation is produced rather than what the R-value is after the unit has been in the field for one year. In the roofing industry manufactures publish a 90-120 day aged R-value at a 75° mean temperature. Even these R-values do not take into consideration the moisture content of the insulation, which can lower R-value by as much as 75%. It also does not take into account that your walk-in will operate at a much lower mean temperature.
When buying a walk-in cooler or freezer ask what the aged R-value of the insulation will be at your mean operating temperature, 5 years after manufactured and how resistant to moisture the insulation is. You will be surprised how these numbers vary from their published R-values.
R-values of different types of insulation are as follows:
Polyurethane : Published = 32, Projected 5 Year Actual = 8
Extruded Polystyrene : Published = 32, Projected 5 Year Actual = 24
6. Are there different types of walk-ins?
Yes, there are walk-ins that cool and walk-ins that freeze foods and there are also combination units that do both. Walk-ins can be located inside or outside of the facility, on existing floors or prefabricated flooring.
7. What are the differences between putting the compressor/motor condenser outside or inside of my building?
Condensers can be placed inside or outside of the facility. Outside condensers are often called remote condensers.
An indoor compressor/motor condenser system will cost less to install and is easier to maintain and clean, but the heat from the unit will be ejected into the same room. The heat will increase the room temperature causing your air conditioning system to work harder.
An outdoor compressor/motor condenser system will prevent heat buildup and eliminate noise. The system will also operate more efficiently in cooler weather.
Although an indoor installation is less expensive, the energy savings may be worth installing your compressor/motor condenser outside, not to mention the reduction of noise that may bother your patrons and employees. Be sure you check with your landlord, building or city that may have restrictions on outdoor use, prior to purchasing and installation.
8. What are some standard features?
Some of the standard features are the option of a left or right hinged door, deadbolt locking handles, inside door releases, and reinforced door frames with heavy-duty hinges.
9. What are some add-on features or customizations available?
Do you need a strip curtain for energy efficiency? How about a temperature alarm to alert you that your refrigeration is not functioning properly? Do you need a kickplate to protect the door, or an internal or external ramp to help you wheel carts into the freezer?
Make a list of additional features you want in your walk-in. It’s better to bundle any add-ons with your walk-in purchase because they are often sold at a lower markup vs. buying aftermarket. Depending on the brand or manufacturer, they may also offer:
- Many roof and floor treatments
- Numerous panel finishes
- Wall protectors
- Third door hinges
- View windows
- Light management
- Interior and exterior floor ramps
- Hypalon light switch covers
- Digital or dial thermometers
10. How do I know what to look for in a good quality cooler?
Quality is not something you want to skimp on with your walk-in cooler or freezer. A cheaply purchased box can sometimes mean inflated electricity costs over the life of the walk-in. The initial sticker price is sometimes the only consideration instead of what the walk-in will cost you in the long run.
Quality LED lighting and refrigeration will be more expensive but it can save you considerable amounts on energy costs over the life of your walk-in. It’s important for your walk-in to have a high initial R-value but also investigate how much of the R-value will be retained over the life of the product.
We believe it’s the little details that make the difference, and that’s why we don’t cut corners when installing walk-in coolers and other commercial refrigerators for your business.
Fowler and Sons Inc. | 105 Rupert Road, Ste 2 | (919) 779 – 4330
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